"Boutique" banks triumph in Google's Motorola deal

NEW YORK Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:17pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former employees of elite Wall Street firms are triumphing over their previous investment banks in Google Inc's blockbuster $12.5 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.

Motorola hired Centerview Partners and Qatalyst Partners as advisers on a deal expected to generate $30 million to $35 million for the bankers, according to sources close to the matter.

Centerview and Qatalyst are part of the so-called boutique movement, defined as smaller and more specialized banks or brokerages which deal with a more limited clientele and offer a narrower product line than the older established institutions.

Centerview was founded in 2006 by former bankers at Morgan Stanley and UBS AG, while Qatalyst is the bastion of tech deals founded in 2008 by Frank Quattrone, who earned his spurs at Credit Suisse First Boston and Morgan Stanley.

Lazard Ltd, the blue-blooded advisory firm that was transformed into a Wall Street power by the late Bruce Wasserstein -- another First Boston veteran -- is counseling Google for a fee that could reach $32 million based on the deal value, according to Freeman & Co.

Paul Haigney, a Lazard vice chairman who is based in San Francisco, and the firm's global head of investment banking, Antonio Weiss, are leading the Google team.

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Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, which were lead underwriters on Google's landmark initial public offering in 2004, apparently have no place in the deal. Morgan Stanley ranks as the top M&A adviser on U.S. technology deals this year, according to Thomson Reuters. Credit Suisse advised Google on its purchases of DoubleClick and YouTube, its largest previously announced deals.

The deal will boost Qatalyst, Lazard and Centerview to 12th, 13th and 14th place respectively in the tech, media and telecommunication sector deal tables.

Lazard was one of 28 underwriters on Google's initial public offering, but has not represented it as an acquirer. It has worked for several private companies that the Mountain View, California, search giant has purchased.

David Handler and David St. Jean, who both joined Centerview in 2008 to head its global tech practice and who helped Motorola in January split into two companies, were the chief advisers to Motorola Mobility, sources said. Both Handler and St. Jean previously worked at UBS and the now-defunct Bear, Stearns & Co.

Among the handful of banks that worked with Motorola during its split, Centerview appears to be the only one asked back. The other banks that had been hired to break up the company into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions included Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Barclays Capital.

The lead banker for Qatalyst, whose portion of the Motorola advisory assignment could not be determined, is former Credit Suisse technology banking co-head George Boutros.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is serving as lead counsel for Google, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is the law firm for Motorola Mobility.

Google's proposed Motorola Mobility deal will allow the search giant to build up its patent portfolio -- seen as one of the weakest in the industry --- after it lost out to a consortium led by Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp in a recent auction of bankrupt Nortel Networks' assets.

(Reporting by Nadia Damouni; editing by Jed Horowitz, Bernard Orr and Matthew Lewis)

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